MDCH Debuts Michigan Disease Surveillance System

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 12, 2004

With the implementation of a new web-based system to share health information, the state of Michigan will be able to significantly improve response times in the event of a significant outbreak of disease.

The Michigan Disease Surveillance System (MDSS) marks a revolutionary transition in public health surveillance for the State of Michigan, said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

“Ultimately, the goal of the MDSS is to increase the state’s ability to detect and respond to newly emergent infectious diseases, like SARS, monkeypox, and bird flu,” Olszewski said. “Instead of days that it normally takes to share pertinent health information, we can now – with the advent of technology – reduce that time to mere hours. Our staff in the Bureau of Epidemiology working with the Department of Information Technology have labored tirelessly for more than two years to ensure that this successful system functions smoothly.”

The system, which began operating this week, now links local health departments to the state and also allows Michigan to greatly expand the information electronically stored on cases of disease.

“The key to identifying and responding to outbreaks of communicable disease is the timeliness of case information,” said Dr. Matthew Boulton, Chief Medical Executive for MDCH and Chair of the MDSS development team. “This transition to an electronically-based system allows health practitioners from around the state to share information in a real time basis.

The system will:

· permit timely, web-based reporting of infectious diseases and tracking of cases over time;

· issue automatic “alerts” when infectious disease activity exceeds certain levels; and,

· allow for much faster detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks.

The MDSS was recently mentioned by Dr. Joe Hendersen, Director of CDC’s Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, in his testimony before the U.S. Congressional Select Committee on Homeland Defense, as a model state public health surveillance system.

“We are pleased to provide this resource to health care providers and physicians around the state who ultimately are our first line of defense in preventing the spread of disease,” Olszewski said.